Originally created 01/26/03

Group returns funds to mental health facility



In the midst of a state investigation of an Augusta mental health center, a group with ties to former Georgia Rep. Robin Williams is returning more than $200,000 it was paid for consulting.

John B. Long, an attorney for Mr. Williams, said last week that a reimbursement check for $208,000 from International Consulting Corp. was delivered to his office Wednesday and will be returned to the Community Mental Health Center of East Central Georgia.

The return of the money is the latest turn in the controversy swirling about the state facility, which provides mental health and substance abuse treatment for the region.

Two of the center's highest-ranking officials - Executive Director Mike Brockman and Administrator Jim Points - have been placed on paid leave while state officials continue their investigation, sparked in part by an anonymous letter outlining improper actions in hiring and management at the facility off Mike Padgett Highway.

International Consulting also was named in the anonymous allegations being scrutinized by the Georgia Department of Human Resources' Office of Investigative Services.

International Consulting also reflects a series of relationships involving Mr. Williams and others, including lobbyist Chad Long, the grandson of former Georgia House Speaker Tom Murphy.

According to records obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, International was paid $250,000 for its unsuccessful five-month effort to obtain a state license called a Certificate of Need to allow the Augusta mental health facility to add a child and adolescent services inpatient unit.

Although it is returning most of the money, about $42,000 that went to Atlanta attorney Pam Stephenson will not be returned, according to John Long and Dr. Jack Cheatham, a member of the Community Service Board of East Central Georgia, the center's governing board.

In a letter last month to the board, Ms. Stephenson said her efforts to prepare the certificate application had been delayed by illness.

Mr. Long said he advised Chad Long - no relation - who he said runs International Consulting in Bremen, Ga., to return the unspent portion of the money.

"I told them that, in light of all this controversy, ... just send the money back,"' Mr. Long said. "And that's what I'm going to do, just send the money back - $208,000."

Mr. Long said that was the extent of his involvement and he did not know any of the details of the center's contracts or business.

Many of those involve Mr. Long's client, Robin Williams. Last week the former state lawmaker from Augusta denied doing anything wrong and promised to explain the situation concerning the money and his other connections with the center.

The following day, however, he said he had changed his mind on Mr. Long's advice.

Chad Long also has an agreement with the center to provide health-care consulting services "at a case rate of $2,000 per month," according to state records.

He did not return three phone messages last week seeking comment.

STATE RECORDS SHOW several connections between Mr. Williams and the people and companies doing business with Augusta's Community Mental Health Center.

The International Consulting contract with the Augusta center was signed by Bertha L. Johnson, who was listed in Georgia secretary of state records as International Consulting's vice president and treasurer. She is also listed in state corporate records as an officer in a company formed by Mr. Williams called Insurance Coverage Consultants.

State records also show the only company in Georgia registered as International Consulting Corp. is called ICC-International Consulting Corp. and has a registered agent named David Janecke at 4025 Dowling Drive in Martinez. Mr. Janecke's wife, Bonnie S. Janecke, is also listed as an officer in Mr. Williams' company, Insurance Coverage Consultants.

Mr. Janecke recently appeared at a meeting of the center's board, where he identified himself as a manager of another of the center's contractors, Capitol Health Systems Inc.

According to state corporation records, Capitol Health Systems shares the same office as Mr. Williams' company at 4468 Columbia Road. In the incorporation papers filed in the secretary of state's office, Mr. and Mrs. Janecke are listed as officers of Capitol Health.

Beginning last August, Community Mental Health Center agreed to pay Capitol Health Systems $100,000 a month, plus up to a 20 percent bonus for increased revenue collected and for speeding up billings and collection.

Last year, the center paid Capitol Health $612,315, according to a center report.

The center had previously paid Mr. Williams $30,000 for three months' work in 2001 to be a consultant and legislative liaison.

At that time, the center's executive director, Mike Brockman, acknowledged he was a friend of Mr. Williams. Mr. Brockman and center official Jim Points have been placed on administrative leave for the duration of the investigation, but the center has emphasized that the leave should not be seen as evidence of any wrongdoing.

MR. WILLIAMS' involvement with another state medical facility also is under scrutiny. He was paid $150,000 by a hospital in Waycross to help it obtain a Certificate of Need, the same kind of license International Consulting was supposed to help obtain for Augusta's Community Mental Health Center.

In that case, state Sen. Rene D. Kemp asked the Georgia attorney general's office to investigate the payment, which, an attorney general's spokesman says, "is still under review."

Through it all, Mr. Williams has denied any wrongdoing.

"There's no truth to any of it," he said of the Augusta situation. But in brief on-the-record remarks, Mr. Williams said he would go after the board's chairwoman, Nancy Williamson, who is involved in the investigation.

"I'm going to probably sue somebody, probably Nancy Williamson," he said.

AUGUSTA CENTER

Community Mental Health Center of East Central Georgia, at 3421 Mike Padgett Highway, is part of the state mental health system. It provides primarily outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment, and is one of the largest mental health providers in the Augusta area. It is funded by the state and also bills the state's Medicaid and private insurance for treatment.

Reach Sylvia Cooper or Tom Corwin at (706) 724-0851.